If you’ve been watching the news at all in the past few weeks, you’ve seen the coverage of Facebook, but if you haven’t, it’s not good.
What sparked national outrage this past month was the testimony from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen, who spoke before Congress and alleged that the company knowingly harmed children, specifically teenage girls, with their product.
The Senate hearings came after Haugen released thousands of internal documents showing that the company is aware of the adverse affects that both Facebook and Instagram have on their users, with one presentation slide obtained by the Wall Street Journal even going so far as to say, “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls.”
Many senators became more heated as the hearings went on, with Massachusetts’ own Senator Ed Markey comparing Facebook to Big Tobacco, “pushing a product they know is harmful.”
Yet the company shows no intent to implement any significant changes to the platform. Just two days ago, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, announced that the company would be changing its name to “Meta,” a clear attempt on his part to deflect from the backlash without any of the effort of making concrete improvements.
Though you might think this issue affects only a small demographic of people, you would be severely mistaken. Facebook has long been under fire for their algorithm, which has been shown to push divisive content in order to up engagement. This leads to the spread of disinformation, which has never been more directly linked to people dying than in the age of COVID.
Dr. Adriano Goffi, medical director of the Altus Health System near Houston, quantifies the impact, stating that nearly 80% of of the unvaccinated, severely sick corona patients he sees come in spewing fantastical ideas of how the vaccine is poison, inputs tracking devices into their blood, and even causes sterility.
This is not an issue that will resolve itself without active efforts on Facebook’s part. But Zuckerberg has already proven he cannot be trusted to undertake that responsibility himself. Some have proposed the creation of a federal agency to oversee tech companies and regulate their bahvior or the implementation of stricter privacy legislation that would prevent tech companies from storing users’ data longer than a set period of time.
Even if neither of these solutions are perfect, something must be done. Using these kinds of social media platforms as they are is extremely detrimental to children’s health, especially at a time when their brains are still developing. And it is far past time for action. Call your congressmen and let them know you will not stand to see them put the interests of major corporations over those of this country’s youth.